Silver Lake PD approved for buying digital radios

An abrupt change to digital narrow band signals for police communications at the county level led the Silver Lake Police Department to seek approval for new digital radios for its squads and officers Wednesday night.

The Silver Lake Village Board approved the expenditure unanimously. Estimated costs for three in squad car radios and three portable radios will be about $8,400 based on a quote from Radicom, Inc. of McHenry, Illinois accepted Wednesday.

A bid also was sought from RC Electronics in Salem, but it was substantially more expensive.

Police Chief Dan Kingsley said the timing of the change caught the department by surprise when it was made last week. With the sheriff’s department now using digital signals, Silver Lake is having a difficult time using a analog channel that is supposed to be monitored by Joint Services Dispatch. Officers in practice have found that the channel is not being monitored well, he said.

Switching to a digital capable radios will resolve that problem, Kingsley said.

“It’s an officer safety issue,” Kingsley said.

Even with the approval, Silver Lake officers may have to continue to use work arounds like low powered portable radios and cell phones for another month before the digital radios arrive and can be installed, Kingsley said. That’s because the higher cost of digital radios means dealers do not readily stock the equipment.

While the village will lay out the money now, it’s possible some of it may be recovered. The radios being replaced are relatively new and the department will attempt to sell them at the best price possible. The department may also be able to get some reimbursement for the cost from the state Department of Natural Resources since some of the equipment is used for water patrol on Silver Lake.

Other area departments are also facing the same necessity to change radios, due to a federal mandate to begin using narrow banding on its frequencies. The Twin Lakes Village Board approved purchase of digital radios for its police department as well last Monday. However, the village is less effected by the changeover at the county level because it has its own dispatch center. Silver Lake is dispatched through the county.



  1. Bill H says:

    Any idea if county fire will be switching over to digital?

  2. Chris says:

    How did a federal mandate catch the Silver Lake Police Dept by surprise?

  3. Chris: I think it was more the timing of the change to digital at the county level that was a surprise. The chief said he knew the change to narrow band was coming. The switch to digital by the county they did not expect and they heard about it with short notice, he said. I tried to make the story more clear on that point.

  4. Scott says:

    There is no current plan for the county fire frequency to switch to digital as of now. There is no federal mandate to go digital either. The only federal mandate is to narrowband. It sounds more like poor communication between agencies to me!

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